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Upwork Enterprise: What Makes It Great (Independent Contract Workforce Analysis)

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Upwork, the well-known, global online freelancer marketplace, is increasingly becoming known for its Upwork Enterprise solution, a combination of technology and managed services designed to enable enterprises to source and engage freelance talent. Upwork Enterprise was recently evaluated in Spend Matters’ SolutionMap framework with the Independent Contract Workforce (ICW) enterprise solution category. The ICW solution segment is the most dynamic part of the contingent and workforce and services (CW/S) procurement technology market, which also includes the Temp Staffing (Vendor Management Systems/VMS) and Contract Services/Statement of Work solution segments.

Today’s ICW enterprise solutions — many originating, like Upwork, as online marketplaces — have their roots (or at least their impetus) in the so-called gig, freelance and peer-to-peer “economies” (the new world of Uber and Airbnb versus the establishment world of enterprise software applications inhabited for decades by providers like SAP and Oracle). Some of these “gig economy” solution providers have been clawing their way into larger enterprises with new technology platforms to allow those organizations to scale up their use of freelancers sourced through online platforms. This is what Upwork has been doing with Upwork Enterprise, which goes go market now as a combined managed services and technology solution (analogous, up to a point, of traditional managed service providers with their own VMS technology).

In the ICW solution segment, Upwork Enterprise is a unique solution that provides a set of functionality and services that organizations of any size can use to source, engage and pay remote, online freelancers and agencies from Upwork’s global marketplace. It provides clients with robust capabilities that includes management of SOW projects and the organization of preferred providers (freelancers/agencies) in private talent pools. And the value of the platform also is being amplified by a growing set of managed services and solution offerings.

Where does Upwork Enterprise fit into the burgeoning ICW market? As of September 2018, the Spend Matters SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on over 50 providers within the procurement technology landscape, including six providers within the ICW segment. But where does Upwork Enterprise stand out most and help “set the bar” in for the ICW segment? And why should this matter for procurement and HR organizations? Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where Upwork Enterprise is great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Scoring and Components Overview: Contingent Workforce/Services (Enterprise) SolutionMap Group

Scoring and Components Overview for E-Contingent Workforce/Services (Enterprise) SolutionMaps (Temp Staffing, Contract Services/SOW and Independent Contract Workers) provides comparative rankings and insight into how each provider scored from a Solution perspective and Customer Value perspective.

Q3 2018 Independent Contract Workers: Provider Scoring Summary

This SolutionMap scoring summary analyzes a select group of Independent Contract Worker solution providers. It is part of our Q3 2018 SolutionMap report series, also with coverage of Temp Staffing and Contract Services/Statement of Work providers.

Q3 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Contingent Workforce & Services (CW/S) Enterprise Technology Solutions — Temp Staffing, Contract Services/Statement of Work (SOW), Independent Contract Workers (ICW)

Q3 2018 marks the very first research cycle and the inaugural publication of Spend Matters’ Contingent Workforce & Services (CW/S) “enterprise technology” SolutionMap, addressing the sourcing and management of three underlying categories: Temp Staffing, Contract Services/Statement of Work and Independent Contract Workers (ICW).

The providers in the Q3 2018 CW/S SolutionMap include: Beeline, DCR Workforce, Field Nation, SirionLabs, TalentNet, TalonFMS, Upwork Enterprise, Vndly, and WorkMarket (ADP).

Given our procurement orientation, we evaluate “enterprise technology” vendors within a source-to-pay (S2P) reference model. In other words, we look at vendors in terms of their (specifically focused or more comprehensive) capabilities that address some or all enterprise requirements that arise within a S2P life-cycle (i.e., from supplier sourcing to worker or supplier payment).

In this first CW/S research cycle, there was limited participation in the Temp Staffing and Contract Services/SOW SolutionMap categories, where we encountered conservatism and uncertainty among many of the “established” vendors. However, there was — and continues to be — a much more vibrant interest in participation by vendors in the emergent Independent Contract Workers (ICW) SolutionMap category.

Over time, we hope that more “established” players will participate in and draw benefit from the SolutionMap process. In the meantime, just getting out of the gate, we have gathered extensive business profile information, received well over 30 client reference surveys and have assigned scores to specific solution capabilities (RFI line items) ranging from well over 100 to about 300, depending upon how many SolutionMap categories a particular vendor participated in.